There's an institution called L'Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques whose abbreviation is IHÉS. When I pronounce it, should I say it as

 i - h - é - s

or is it OK to read it out as

 i - h - e - s ?

Generally, if an abbreviation contains É or È, how should I pronounce it? (I'm asking this because I sometimes encounter non-French people who use the latter pronunciation...)


For the IHÉS, I have heard both, and often seen it written IHES, since getting the accented capitals is tricky on many computers. But since according to the Académie, the capitals should always be accented (see Accentuation des majuscules) it may be considered wrong (or non-standard if you are descriptivist).

Anyway, the only thing you should worry about is mutual understanding. Depending on the context you may say Institut, or Institut des Hautes Études, which are not much more complicated to say than either IHES or IHÉS.

  • I would add that anglophone mathematicians (at least the ones I interact with) seem to split evenly between pronouncing I-H-E-S with the English pronunciation of the letters and pronouncing I-H-É-S with an approximation of the French sounds (pronouncing É as eh). I would personally avoid institut since it strikes me as potentially ambiguous (IHP in Paris, IAS in Princeton etc.) Oct 5 '12 at 12:14
  • Merci beaucoup! It was very informative (especially the position of the Académie.)
    – Yuji
    Oct 6 '12 at 5:43

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